Making passion visible

Our new professional learning community recently got together for a summer “coffee and conversation.”   For conversation we used questions from The Big Picture by Dennis Littkey.

The conversation wound its way around to the idea of passion.  Remembering conversations at Educon in Philadelphia, I shared a conversation I had with some students who attended the conference.   A few of us were talking with them about what they got out of attending, and their comment was ‘we had no idea teachers cared so much about education.’

It made me wonder, as other bloggers have, how often we share our passion with our students.  Are they even aware we are passionate about what we do or about our subject?   What happens when we share that more openly?

Coincidentally, in the “My Turn” column in this week’s Newsweek, Biology professor Sally Hoskins evokes her passion for biology and how to share it with students.  “If my students remember nothing else, I’d be happy if they leave with the idea that, just like art of music, science is a creative process.”

She continues:

“Science isn’t old information pressed like crumbling fall leaves between the pages of forgotten books.  It’s alive–growing and shifting and blossoming.”

And yet I fear that students too often leave our classrooms and schools thinking of curriculum as something stored, dried up, and crumbling, instead of something living and breathing.  How can we make it “live” for our students?

Many ideas come to mind–bringing it into the real world, using technology tools to engage them actively in interacting with it, inviting students “in” to our curriculum process– but most of all, I think sharing our own energy and passion in a visible way is a way to bring meaning to students.

I think it’s akin to modeling a process for students by verbalizing our thoughts as we go through the process.   Do we model or verbalize our passion as we move through a lesson or work with an individual student?   Does our passion for books or our subject area become visible?  Are we sharing it with our adult colleagues but not our students in the classroom?

When we are around people who are passionate about what they do, or release our own passion and share it, it is contagious.   It sparks an interest in some thing that perhaps was unknown to the other person before.  It is a burst of life, a spark–and something that is invigorating to both the recipient and the person sharing.    Sharing our passion further inspires us to keep on going, to try new things–while inspiring others far beyond the moment when we share with them.

Hoskins’ ends her course showing a video on sea-horses because she wants to share something that her students don’t already know.  As she writes so passionately, she wants to share

“Something we’re aware of only because some passionate scientist spends 12 hours a day underwater filming it.  Something beautiful and amazing.”

So in the rush for “achievement scores” and grading, and covering the curriculum, and paperwork, and the flow of students in and out of our spaces, we need to ask ourselves–What beautiful and amazing things do I love?  And how can I let my students see that?

5 thoughts on “Making passion visible

  1. This concept is so true and can be put into every aspect of learning. Just a change in tone in the classroom can help students become more excited and interested in what is being toughs. I find that students are far more interested in any topic, when they feel and see the passion in the teacher. The emotion of passion in the classroom is not new, just easy to forget on the hustle and bustle of mandated teaching. Awareness tools for teachers are just as important as the ones for students. A topic for the future?

  2. Courage and hope are different than passion. Teachers and librarians hope they can make a difference in their students’ lives. It takes courage to take risks and think out of the box (testing and accountability).

    Passion is doing what you love – going beyond what is asked of you because you know and believe that a particular concept or idea is so good, that it can make a difference, you have to share it. You live and breathe it. I know about passion. Sometimes doing something you love and believe in is not always the best thing for you to do because it steers you away from what you are supposed to be doing. But deep down you know that this passion, this thing you love, means so much to you that you have to share it.

    This is a tough time for education. In many parts of California, Librarians are being replaced by paraprofessionals or even parents. It amazes me that school communities are making choices to cut libraries, the arts, and increase classroom size. In some schools in California, classes average 35-38 students. I hope this doesn’t spread to other states.

    I agree with Carolyn. It is important for librarians to share, blog, create projects, post comments, link, present, write, and get the word out about what you do, why you believe in your students, and give examples of your passion.

  3. Yes – but courage and hope allow us to wear our passion right out there where our students can see it.

    I have always had plenty of internal passion for my job. I regularly went beyond what was asked of me. What I was missing – was that I was hiding that light from my students. Since I have taken that leap – my job is much more fulfilling to me.

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